I promised myself I’d ignore April Fools’ Day this year, but Betabrand shattered my resolve.
Remember Betabrand? It’s the sassy San Francisco company that brought us the Vagisoft blanket, a real, year-round product I wrote about in December 2010. (Since then, Betabrand’s “VagiLab” has added unisex Vajamas and Vagisoft hoodies to the range.)
This morning, Betabrand emailed me to announce a very special new product: Adult Adult Undergarments, an “innovation in absorption couture.”
The before-and-after photos depict a grizzled, slightly seedy-looking guy wearing, stage left, a pair of gray incontinence briefs and, stage right, some va-va-voom leopard-print skivvies.
The copy displays the usual Betabrand bravado:
Gentlemen: When the forecast calls for a sizzling hot night, you want to make sure there’s 0% chance of precipitation.
So don’t settle for ordinary adult undergarments when you can slip on new Adult Adult Undergarments. Super sexy, super absorbent, and available in three come-hither styles.
Jungle Lord: Like a big cat, you’re always on the prowl. Now get ready to mark your territory, discreetly.
Outlaw: You’re not the kind of guy who plays by the rules, especially the rule that says you can’t urinate in your pants.
The Dry Martini: Leave your lover shaken and stirred.
Naturally, there’s an absorption-demonstration photo. Naturally, it uses blue liquid. But not just any blue liquid.
The brand still lacks a name, so feel free to leave your suggestion in the comments. My favorite so far, for its combination of erudition and zaniness:
“Piadese” (pee at ease) after the greek urinating cherub. OR name after the iconic statue of “Menneken Pis” (urinating cherub) by Hieronymus Duquesnoy was created in commission of the city council of Brussels after an earlier 14th century example.
Today is National Grammar Day (March Fourth, the only date that’s an imperative) and Mardi Gras and National Pancake Day (the last according to IHOP, which has what you might call a vested interest). Stack up the grammardicakes and let the bon temps rouler!
Even if you celebrated National Grammar day last year or in 2010, you must celebrate it again today. Most important, or most importantly, if you live in a state that is adopting the Common Core, you are required to take the National Grammar Day Quiz today. If you took the National Grammar Quiz in 2011, you must retake it, because those scores are no longer valid.
“Well, they may have the doors and windows covered, but that doesn’t make you safe.”
“What do you mean?”
“You’ve been infiltrated.”
She uttered a word that I don’t think used to be in the dictionary.
Mark Allen of the American Copy Editors Society (ACES) directed the fourth annual National Grammar Day Tweeted Haiku Contest. Who will win? Our breath is bated; we definitely could care much, much less than we do. See all the entries here. UPDATE: Well, whaddya you know. My doge haiku won!
Some of them are mine:
Wow. Very poem. Amaze syllabifying. Because #grammarday
Leave it to the inventive and enterprising Mignon Fogarty, aka Grammar Girl, to turn language peeves (“literally,” “could care less,” “very unique,” et al.) into a card game in which the object is “to annoy your opponent to death.” She’s raising money for Peeve Wars through Fund Anything; contribute now to claim your own card set or another nifty reward.
Some people peeve about new, “unnecessary” words. But language blogger Stan Carey defends them: “Avoiding new and ‘needless’ words in formal contexts is all well and good, but what’s wrong with a grand superfluity elsewhere? Will the language look untidy if words float around not filling vital gaps? Will they gum up the works?”
“We think first / Of vague words that are synonyms for progress / And pair them with footage of a high-speed train.” This Is a Generic Brand Video, from McSweeney’s, of course.
Orenitram, a drug for pulmonary arterial hypertension, is an ananym: The name was created by reverse-spelling the first eight letters of the name of the drug company’s CEO, Martine Rothblatt. But that’s just the beginning of a truly remarkable name story, reported by Catchword.
The new BuzzFeed style guide answers the really tough spelling and usage questions: Is bitchface one word or two? (One.) Is there an E in chocolaty? (No.) What’s the proper abbreviation of douchebag? (d-bag.) What’s the difference between wack and whack? (Look it up; it’s in there.) And, FYI, the word is spelled whoa. Don’t make us repeat ourselves.
“Writing and editing are linked but distinct enterprises, and distinct temperaments are involved. Very few people can move smoothly from the one enterprise to the other.” – John McIntyre, one of the few.
Who names the color of the year? Professional namers, that’s who. The Boston Globe interviewed Bay Area name developer Anthony Shore for his insights into color naming; the article is headlined—care to guess?—“What’s in a Name?” (I tackled the subject of color names myself for a 2011 Visual Thesaurus column.)
Fifty shades of blue. Can you discern the difference between LinkedIn blue and Disqus blue? IBM blue and Evomail blue? Test your powers of perception at Name That Blue, then graduate to pinks, reds, purples, greens, and a whole lot of tech companies you’ve never heard of.
Helvetica the perfume. “We have created the ultimate Modernist perfume – a scent distilled down to only the purest and most essential elements to allow you, the content, to convey your message with the utmost clarity.” Translation: for $62, not including tax and shipping, you get distilled water in a clear bottle with a label.
“For those who dare to be the same.” Image via AdFreak.
Hideous holiday music. I note with sadness the passing in 2013 of Jim Nayder, curator of Chicago Public Radio’s Annoying Music show (frequently heard on NPR); and of Regretsy (“Where DIY Meets WTF”), the blog that compiled the very worst of Etsy craft projects. But there’s hope for both camps of mourners: the multitalented April Winchell, who ran Regretsy for four years (posting as Helen Killer), can still be found on her eponymous blog. And in an effort that would do Jim Nayder proud, she’s compiled her own catalog of wretched holiday tunes, from “Homo Christmas” (by Pansy Division) to the Bethlehem Rap, from “I Yust Go Nuts on Christmas” and “Yingle Bells” by that great, great faux-Swedish entertainer Yogi Yorgesson (né Harry Stewart) to the world’s worst version of “O Holy Night.”
And speaking of holiday traditions, watch this space for my annual Festivus Airing of Grievances, coming later this week.
Also available in Monsters University Shapes, Cheesy Alfredo, Cheesy Southwestern Chipotle, and Sponge Bob Square Pants Shapes.
After Andy Behr tipped me about this product (and ’tis grateful I am!), I searched for it at my local Safeway. No luck. But of course it’s available on Amazon, where the very first review, posted in 2010*, is a minor classic of the genre:
As I sit here, with a mouth full of this fine Kraft product, I can't help but remember that fateful December afternoon. The war had ended some time ago, yet you could still hear the resentment resonating through the townsfolk's gnashed teeth. Jake and I were at the bar, as usual, trying to drink away the sun. The barkeep, sliding a filthy rag across the counter, squinted as he tried to read our shirts. He let a grin escape and shook his head.
“You got a problem, old man?” Jake took off his glasses.
The barkeep ran his forearm across his wrinkled face. “Ain’t no problem here. You boys have guts, is all, wearin’ those Kraft logos around these parts. This is a Stouffer’s county.”
Jake stood up, sliding his stool back across the hardwood floor. “If I wanted to choke down frozen food, I’d move my ass to Alaska. I’ll take The Cheesiest any day.” We used to call him Jake the Patriot. Always looking for a fight. I grabbed his arm in a vain attempt to pacify him. Looking around the room, I saw we were vastly outnumbered.
The lights, the carols, the shopping-mall Santas: verily, ’tis ’Tis the Season season once again. The ’tis-ing started early this year (mid-October!) and shows no sign of abating. In fact, this year I discovered a Tis the Season store—correction, “Christmas Shoppe”—in Millersburg, Ohio. (The apostrophe on that Tis is mysteriously missing.) And if the website design is any indication, this is a place to shoppe till you droppe in a queasy stupor.
In the rest of the U.S., November 29 is this year’s Black Friday, the traditional start of the holiday shopping season. (In fact, I’ve been seeing Black Friday promotions for weeks.) Here in Oakland, though, we’re a little more colorful.
The name Plaid Friday was conceived from the idea of weaving the individual threads of small businesses together to create a strong fabric that celebrates the diversity and creativity of independent businesses. Plaid Friday is the relaxing and enjoyable alternative to the big box store “Black Friday,” and is designed promote both local and independently owned businesses during the holidays.
My new column for the Visual Thesaurus examines Thanksgivukkah, the madeupical name for the Thanksgiving-Hanukkah convergence that occurs this year—and won’t occur again for another 75,000 years, according to one calculation. (Hanukkah begins at sundown Wednesday, November 27, so the first full day of the Jewish holiday is Thanksgiving Day, November 28.)
While Thanksgivukkah is a recent neologism, the combined-observance concept is familiar by now. Other Thanksgiving variations have included Friendsgiving (a Thanksgiving celebration sans family, documented as early as 2004) and Planksgiving, which is either a month-long fitness challenge (perform as many “plank” positions as you can) or a holiday invented by the writers of the TV show “Hart of Dixie” in which residents of the fictional town of Bluebell, Alabama, dress up as pirates. A few years ago I wrote about Chrisumukkah, Chrismahanukwanzakah, and other invented winter holidays; last month I caught a reference to Diwaloween, a blend of the Hindu holiday of Diwali and Halloween, which occurred close together this year. There’s also “Falloween,” which, Word Spy tells us, “unites the words fall and Halloween to recognize the lengths to which many people now go to celebrate the latter.”
Blog bonus: The recent coinages Thanksgivukkah, Chrismukkah, and Friendsgiving follow a decades-older example, Franksgiving. In 1863, President Lincoln proclaimed the final Thursday in November as a national Thanksgiving holiday; in October 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt moved the date to the fourth Thursday in an attempt to bolster retail sales, which were still in a Great Depression slump. The late switch prompted immediate opposition; 22 states that year kept the traditional date, November 30 (“Republican” Thanksgiving), while 23 states accepted the new date, November 23. Three states observed both dates, as did Atlantic City, New Jersey, whose mayor dubbed the new date Franksgiving “in honor of our president.” After two years of divided Thanksgiving loyalties, Congress in 1941 declared FDR’s choice to be the official date, and Americans have observed Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday in November ever since.
Friendsgiving: A Thanksgiving meal shared with friends rather than family, sometimes on a date other than the official Thanksgiving Day (U.S. or Canadian).
The precise origins of “Friendsgiving” are uncertain. The sole citation in Urban Dictionary is dated November 26, 2009; it notes that the holiday “usually occurs on the Wednesday before or the Friday after Thanksgiving Day, since Thanksgiving is usually reserved for family gatherings.” I found a personal “Friendsgiving “ photo gallery dated November 27, 2004, but nothing from earlier years. (As far as I can tell, Friendsgiving has no connection to the TV sitcom “Friends,” which coincidentally aired its last episode in 2004.)
This year, Friendsgiving is fully fledged and robustly commercialized. As a growing minority of college students choose to stay on campus over the long Thanksgiving holiday, Friendsgiving is becoming a popular new tradition, according to Metro, an online magazine “for the young and ambitious.” BuzzFeed, whose audience is young and not so ambitious, published “17 Rules of Friendsgiving” (“1. The host makes the turkey”).
Several corporations have taken notice. On November 15, Taco Bell hosted some SoCal social-media stars at a Friendsgiving meal at company headquarters in Irvine, California. The event fit into a current Taco Bell advertising theme: “Nothing is better than a friend with Taco Bell.”
The Taco Bell invitation as tweeted by @KalebNation (229,938 followers).
Related: my 2012 post “The Cherpumple of Holidays.” Also see my December 2010 column for the Visual Thesaurus, “Happy Made-Up Holidays!” And stay tuned for my next Visual Thesaurus column, which will investigate Thanksgivukkah (this year’s rare convergence of Thanksgiving and Hanukkah), Movember, Planksgiving, and other invented November observances.